This One Realm: Chapter 1 "A Night To Remember"

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July 7th, ATS 1125

The Colossi Palace

Above in the skies of Fomura, the air is littered with fantastical shimmering lights. The fireworks rocket here, and there, as they race to the heavens, and explode in a short brilliance. Thunderous sounds of music sweep from a large palace, and carries itself far down into the city that sits at the Palace's feet. It would seem that this night of celebration has been spared no expense.

Thousands of Nobles, Guildsmen, and the better known inhabitants of the realm have gathered here today. They gather to celebrate the twentieth year of Princess Oralia, and her ascension to adult hood and the right to rule upon the departure of her father's kingship. It will be a grand night of wonderful foods, song, dance, and the occasional drunken fool.

Soldiers adorned in suits of armor, that are polished to a mirrored shine patrol the halls, battlements, and the general audience grounds. They themselves are caught up in the spirit of the night, and have a relaxed air about them. Certainly everyone is in good spirits, and is at ease this night.

As one enters the Grand Hall, they will witness a sea of moving people, as some dance, other's converse, and a few more drift unsuspectingly through the crowd in order to serve their guests. The large carved pillars that hold up the massive glass window at the Hall's top are adorned in fancy colored ribbons, and have lanterns suspended from them. Along the walls are ancient stone tablets that have each royal family members' name, title, and eventual accomplishments carved into them. Princess Oralia's name has been added, and filled with Emerald allowing it to glow in the Hall's light.

King Aberdan has certainly gone out of his way to make this a night that none shall forget for years to come.


King Aberdan stood calmly a top the steps leading to the King's Table. The massive amount of people that were gathered in the Hall was simply astounding... he often forgot just how big the realm truly was at times. Softly he stroked his beard with a pleased smile upon his worn face, and that fiery light that always graced his eyes was shining in full force tonight.

"Oralia, my child... do come, and partake of the festivities. I am going out of my way to grant you a magical night. Why must you hide during this night?" He asked after turning to look at his daughter. He was determined to get the girl to liven up a bit, and enjoy herself... she was a reserved woman at times.

"Oh I wish your mother could be here to see all of this... I imagine I would be getting quite a scolding about my lack of meagerness tonight, ha!" He added with a deep laugh. Though he was older now, he still had the power of a bear in his voice, and the gentleness that came with being a King who'd learned the patience of rearing a child on his own. Truth be told, he'd never employed a nanny or another member of the court to care for his child. A truly uncommon trait, but certainly well placed in an uncommon king.

"Come now, girl. Get out and enjoy yourself tonight."
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The Palace Dungeons


The sounds of metal boots echoed eerily in the stone passageways. Three pairs could be heard approaching the first of many rows of small cells. Two guards and a man then turned, and entered the corridor. The lead individual... obviously the prisoner was bound in thick ropes, and chains. The kind of bindings that one would expect for a most terrible man. His two jailers walked with swords drawn, and the look of the kill in their eyes.

Stopping, one of the guards opened the cell door, and looked down at their captive. "Get in, and don't be startin' anymore trouble. King's got a habit of last chances, but the Captain's got a habit of forgetting to tell em' things, ya hear?"

The captive slightly tilted his bruised face, and looked up at him with his pale glowing green eyes. The slowly spinning colored ring in each focused intently on him. "... you won't keep me here for much longer you bastards... you think just because your nobles that you c-"

He was cut off as his face was slammed against the steel caging of the door. Blood splattered against the stone floor from the corner of his head. Another injury it seemed... the man was covered in them. As he staggered back, he was thrown into the cell, and locked inside.
A few gobs of spit landed on his face from the guards as they turned around, and began back down the hallway.

The man's breath was ragged, and uneven. After a moment of laying on the corner of his cot, he managed to climb up to the mattress, and wipped his hand across his face. Blood smeared thickly across his face. "Bastards..."

After a moment, he lifted his right hand, and slowly drew a symbol in the air while speaking a few strange spidery words "Atu Hjemkost..." A dull light radiated from the fresh woud he'd received, and then the slight smell of burned flesh followed. The man then leaned forward, and hung his head. The pain was still there, but at least he wasn't still bleeding.

Truth be told... the man looked like he'd gone to hell twice, and then been kicked out so he could come once more.
Inhale. . .

Water dripping from the ceiling, directly to her right.

Exhale. . .

Her own heart, beating steadily in time with her breath.

Inhale. . .

The sound of boots, the tang of blood, sweat, human stench, human tongue.

Exhale. . .

Her skin prickled with the tiny charged air particles of magic. Prestadeth tried to keep her anger an disgust in check. Ignore the abomination in the cell across from you. . .

Inhale. . .

Keep your wits sharp. Open your senses. Dispel your anger. Reclaim Cúhigil, sharp and patient. Dispense with your captors one by one, the way you would a pest in your bed, then go home.

Exhale. . .

Prestadeth sat on her tiny, soiled cot, knees drawn to her chest, dark hair spilling in front of her face. The cell was dark, barely illuminated by the weak torchlight from the hall. Her eyes glowed brightly in the darkness, two sharp, green knives cutting through the darkness, through the bars of her cell, through the mage in his cell before her, out to something beyond. . .

Prestadeth breathed steadily and waited, patient like the sharp, thirsty blade of Cúhigil.
Oralia stood partially behind a curtain, one hand pulling it back as she peered out watching the crowds. Her father's comments drawing a smile from her.

"I am not hiding. I am being fashionably late?" In truth, the princess was a bit nervous. Oralia took a great deal of enjoyment from her father's parties. The beautiful clothes, dreamy music, and cheerful festivities. But tonight was a little different. Tonight the entire world would be staring at her, a princess coming of age. It was intimidating!

Taking a deep breath, Oralia finally stepped out from behind the curtain. Her hair was pulled up and out of her face in a simple twist, with her tiara pinned neatly on top of her head. Instead of the dreadfully puffy dress that a few of her caretakers tried to stuff her in, Oralia choose to wear something far more comfortable. The tunic shirt she wore was of a basic cut with a collar that showed most of her shoulder and sleeves that reached the elbows. Made richly in soft cream colored silk with Green and aqua beads sewn in to the edges, the look was appropriate for a princess. Pairing it with a pair of black pants and embroidered slippers, Oralia hoped that she looked nice enough for such an important party, but understated so people wouldn't stare.

"All right. I will mingle and be merry. ...But you promise you will be my first dance? And my last one! That is my birthday wish!" Clasping her hands behind her back, she rocked on her heels as she cast her father a wide smile. Every year it was her same wish and he never refused. Oralia doubted she'd ever been too old to want a dance from her father.
The Palace Dungeons


The sound of calm rhythmic breathing was slightly unnerving to Zagara. He'd heard horror stories about castle dungeons, and so far... they'd been right. What could possibly keep someone so calm? It just didn't make sense to him. So he became intent on finding out... and passing the time before his next beating which he'd been growing accustomed to over the past two weeks.

"So... what do they have you in here for? You weren't caught thieving like me were ya? Nah... you don't look too beaten up. You must have been locked up today." Zagara said through the dim lighting, and focused his glowing eyes on the person in the cell before him.

"My name's Zagara."

The Grand Hall


"Good god, my girl, if I was as fashionably late as you tend to be, I'd have lost a war or two!" Aberdan said with a hearty chuckle.

"All right. I will mingle and be merry. ...But you promise you will be my first dance? And my last one! That is my birthday wish!"

"Aye, my girl. I promise that I will be the first, and last to be graced with a dance. And I also promise that before I go blind and senile, I'll see you in one of those 'puffy' dresses the likes of when you were but a wee girl!" He finished softly, and lightly placed his hand on her cheek. "But I'll be damn site more jolly if you find yourself a suitor tonight too!" He said knowing full well that his jab would ruffle his daughters feathers some.

"Mind yourself tonight, and have a good time. Before we dine this night a great many things will have changed."

The glowing eyes quickly snapped from the point beyond the mage, to focus upon him. All was silent as they regarded him, reading his body and the air around it.

Prestadeth held in a snort of disdain. For a moment, she considered simply ignoring him to continue plotting her escape, but he was a mage-albeit one who made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end, for some reason.

He could be useful in making an easier escape. She could always kill or maim him, later, so her fellow Guardians wouldn't find out.

"Prestadeth," she finally spoke, so quietly, it was almost difficult to hear. "These scum captured me three days ago, and I woke here a few hours ago. But that doesn't matter. . ."

Zagara blinked, and there she was standing behind the bars of her cell door, clearly visible in the light.

"We are leaving soon."

Steve Arrived at the Ball Fashionably late and already slightly buzzed, He wasn't dressed as usual, but in a red suit and greatcoat with black riding boots, and of course his trademark tall red hat, his beard and hair were immaculately trimmed, and his clothing well tailored and cleaned. He looked impressive, noble, and most of all, dreadfully handsome, he noticed several young women were flashing looks at him, but he didn't care, the woman who grabbed his attention, was hiding behind a curtain at the far side of the room. For just a moment their eyes met, his dark and mysterious and hers bright and young.

He smiled and teasingly left it at that, he deliberately moved just out of her sight range, half to goad her into looking his way, the other half was because the alcohol was across the room from him, and his buzz was fading. He retrieved a fairly full glass of wine and headed out he laughed slightly to himself.

"Tonight will be a night to remember, for everyone."
Oralia was grinning, watching the people in the room as her father teased. A man with a strange looking tall red hat had caught her attention. It was a strange thing to wear... Apparently he had caught her looking and smiled at her!

At that point her father mentioned suitors and she turned away to heave an exaggerated sigh at him.

"Suitors! My dearest father wants me taken away already? I imagine you'd be lonely in this big castle all by yourself." With a wry smile, she bounced on her toes to give the King a quick peck on the cheek. "For you I will hunt and prowl for a potential suitor. Don't forget my dance!" Another kiss on his other cheek and Oralia eased herself off to join the rest of the people in the crowd.

Away from the safety of her hiding place, it felt a lot like being lost at sea. Oralia scanned around for something to focus on. Like that weird red hat. She lost sight of it while talking to her father.
The Palace Dungeons


"Ah... an elf. Not often you find your kind down in these parts. Not that I've ever seen them much... you being my first." Zagara said with what he tried to portray through a bruised, and beaten smile. "What do you mean "We're leaving soon?" How do I know you won't try and knife me in the back?" He asked with suspicion as he then looked to the lock, looked down the hall, and rested his hand on the door.

A small flash of light burst from the lock as it melted to the floor in to a boiling puddle. With that, he slowly pushed the door open, and then looked down the hall once more, and back to Prestadeth. "... guess I can't leave you here... since you were nice enough to give me your name, and to talk to me." He finished with a matter of fact tone, and then rested his hand on the lock of her cell.

"This is going to sound foolish, but promise not to kill me until we get outside the castle... I'd like to see the night sky one last time before I get my throat slit... cause I've got a feelin' that you'd do that."

The Grand Hall


"Nay child. I'd be surrounded by grandchildren within a time, and you'd be doomed to stay here with him forever!" Aberdan chuckled onc emore, and then nodded his head deeply to Oralia. "A promise is my world, Oralia. I will be here when you are ready. Now go on, and have yourself a time."

As Oralia went off to mingle, Abderdan turned his attention to a few men who were perched at the foot of the table's stairs. He'd put these men off for quite a while in order to goad his daughter into leaving her hiding place.
When Prestadeth smiled, it did not seem reassuring, more predatory.

"You are right not to trust me, but take comfort in this," Prestadeth leaned forward, her face a hair's width from the iron bars, and only a few inches from his. "One of the vermin who locked us in here has my blade, I cannot slit your throat until I have it." The cool easy tone assured him that if she did slit his throat, he wouldn't feel a thing.

Prestadeth pulled back, her gaze returning to a steady calm. "Besides, neither of us could escape this place alone, there are hundreds of humans here. I can hear them," her eyes flicked briefly to the ceiling, motioning to the stomping feet and loud voices many floors above them.

"We would have to run a great distance from here, before it would be safe enough for me to kill you." Prestadeth idly examined her sharp fingernails, before adding offhandedly, "plenty of time for you to devise a counter attack."
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After finishing his wine Steve headed inside, again only half of his motivation was on seeing if the girl behind the curtains had come out, the other half was looking for more wine, figured the party would be too classy to serve a good beer. Not that he really cared that much, as he saw it this party would be over in an hour or so, he just figured he'd enjoy it while it lasted.

He retrieved another glass of wine and a few snacks from a roaming server, he stood back leaned up against the wall surveying the area, making a mental note of any windows and doors, being the main hall of the castle, there were plenty.

He took another sip of his wine and munched on something he couldn't tell what it was by sight but it tasted of rice and fish, he looked around the crowds, the girl he'd seen was short. that was for sure, and blended easily into the crowd. he smiled slightly to himself.

why do I always go for the shy ones? He thought to himself chuckling.
The first notion a prisoner lost on Nocta Syr was a sense of passage. Some said it clung to the new arrivals, like water to a fish beached on a bank. But it never lasted long. Between sleep and toil seconds wandered and were lost, while inner clocks rusted in their whispered ticks…rattled and fell silent. Without the sun, time had died. They spoke of it between iron cages as if passing a community treasure from lip to ear, though none could remember the color or weight. In the shadow of the Prison Island, all were equal through shared deprivation.

Three rules governed Nocta Syr, explained to every prisoner on their journey below. The first rule was Obedience, the tenant of incarceration. Orders on the cursed isle were rare, but must be followed with haste and diligence lest one fall victim to the second rule. Castigation was the second law. Deny the first and the second would apply, a system triumphant in its simplicity and dangerous in its obscurity. Castigation was dependent on imagination. No eye of law or civil court would venture to the cells of Nocta Syr, and no man doubted morality was a word of varied definition where the second law was concerned. The third rule was as much a promise as it was a warning, Death. Those arriving in the hovel cells of lightless rock soon found Nocta Syr not a prison at all. Each inmate held a sentence to death; the only requirement was sufferance for sins. Rarely did such an event come swiftly, castigation was a far more interesting punishment then Death ever could be. Few adored the Third Law so much as those who faced it. Death was welcome in the timeless torture.

Some men still sat behind locked cages, violent spirits striving to be human. Most had no need of locks or chains and drifted down the lightless corridors like phantoms. These hollowed creatures did not speak and had no ear for pleas or threats, mindless in their certainty of fate. Saner inmates called them Soulless for they had forgotten what it meant to be human. Here, darkness had a flavor, had a voice, had a name. Some beckoned it as friend and others clawed at its embrace. The only light grew from lichen spreading along cracks and through the charcoal stone, a treasure most would give their lives to have if but to see their hands again.

Whispers held no power here, the half planned schemes of rescue fading to the sounds of nothing. Only the new spoke of freedom, they with a mind to remember light and color. Soon tongues would grow shy, forgetting words to flavor shadows and one by one fell silent.

One by one they died.

Counting seconds with a rhythmic dedication, a mind held vigil over the moments between three and four. A year or more he'd sat within this gloom and counted memories as they trickled by. He knew of others, more than a score along this hallway. Their names had faded and he only knew them by their voices. On the last moment of the last minute, he shifted to the scentless bars and roared out hoarsely giving substance to nothing for but a few seconds.

"The Fourth hour of day has come, the sun has yet to rise!"

His echoes sprinted down the hall and faded, message delivered and message received. Beyond him one among the inmates was counting toward his hour. Remnants of a quelled rebellion, only luck had kept them here so long and allowed them to remember. Perhaps time lived within this stretch of hallway, a dirty urchin neglected in this savage world. He could see it in his mind's eye, the sexless child clinging to the booming call of hour upon hour, feeding from their worship of order. Waking took effort as remembering name and purpose was arduous these days. Like many here, once he had been infamous. The leader of a bloody rebellion, enemy of the Magi…titles meaning little among those of equal repute. For crimes against the throne he was convicted to suffer, for crimes against the Magi he was convicted to suffer here.

Ku-Jon Bokor.

It was his name.

"It is the fifth hour of the day!" A reedy voice shouted from down the corridor, "The sun has yet to rise!"

Ku-Jon smiled to himself, proud of his motley prisoners who'd opted to while away the time till death. The voiceless guards had yet to find much problem with their shouting, though simply constructs they monitored for violence or rebellion. The Lord of this sightless domain might cut their tongues however, though so far they had been lucky. Ku-Jon had only heard the Cling Clang Man and no two could decide upon what he was. Some said a mage so powerful not even the magic-leeching rock could dispels his enchantments. Others maintained it was a monster festooned with chains that stalked the halls for food, eating those who dared to make a noise within its prescence. Ku-Jon had smelled the man, and knew him to be human. He wore an outfit of such discordance as to clash and bang with each step he took. They heard him coming hours before he swept past, wordless and yet speaking, the rattling heralding his arrival and trumpeting his leaving. That man alone held the key to deliverance, and yet he walked without fear of violence. A warrior then, confident in darkness and in strength. Ku-Jon had said nothing last he passed, swiftly reaching as he'd planned to take the keys at his belt…a note and sound he'd been training himself to hear. Slipping from the cell had been easy and by shuffling like the Soulless he'd avoided the lidless eyes of constructs during his ascent through Nocta Syr. Even sitting in his cell, Ku-Jon had to hold back chuckles as he imagined the sun. A message to his crew upon the transport ship out including the details on the island's revolutions around the Abyss. Positioning the ship correctly would give two hours to break Ku-Jon from this nightmare and spirit him from perdition. Muscles taught and heart pounding, the former leader dared to imagine a life without the walls and suffocating darkness. Some might use their freedom to hide, appreciate the gifts of luck and careful planning. Ku-Jon could not. Every thought of home led back to her, every notion of peace was destroyed by her vivid blood. The Magi would pay for their crimes and the kingdom would fall for their support. Hands against the hewn stone, Ku-Jon dared to count the seconds beyond his hour. He would taste liquor again, sings songs again, tell tales, fight, and laugh again.

"It is the sixth hour of the day and the sun has begun to rise!"

Let it rise. He would see the glow of dusk.
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The Palace Dungeons


"Heh... well what can I say after meeting a crazy convict beauty who's got eyes that look like that." Zagara said with a smirk, and rubbed his hands together quickly. "You might want to take a step back... This could get messy." He then placed a finger on the lock, and lightly traced a large curvy symbol. As he connected the drawing, the lock burst into flames, and fell straight to the ground in a molten pool.

"I'm not one for counter attacks... I usually just torch the problem, and leave their ash behind." He added with a wink as he looked back at Prestadeth. He knew that he'd just opened a new world of trouble for him, but he knew he'd need her help to get out... and for some reason... he had this gut feeling that she'd be quite handy later on. That is if she didn't have a hand around the hilt of a knife, and plant it straight into his neck.

The ship smashes to pieces, its decks snapping upwards, its masts cleaving in two, the mage-wind sails burning. The floating boulder continues on its course and ploughs through the hull, ripping open compartments, sailors falling out, tumbling into the Water Fury where all is lost.


"Twelve abeam!" echoed the watch-captain of the Tourniquet and beside him the pilot spun the wheel, sweat and raindrops dripping from his burly arms. The ship lurched to the left and the floating boulder skimmed by, scratching the masts as it passed.

Another boulder strikes the underside, impacting directly on the Carmot Engines, green fire erupting. The ship loses propulsion in an instant and begins a spiral, plunging through the Water Fury. All is lost.


"Nine abaft!" echoed the watch-captain, his voice breaking a little this time. He even helped the pilot wrench the sphere-wheel, pulling it back with all his might. The Tourniquet pulled up sharply and there was a rush of air as the second boulder shot by.

The rock field grows denser, the spaces between impossible to navigate. The sailors are frozen, their mouths agape, as rock after rock slams into the hull and we break apart, ship sections falling like splintered rain.


"Cut tailshaft, starboard careen, full... SHIIIIIIT!" the watch captain stopped halfway through echoing the order and grabbed hold of the nearest rope, as did the rest of the deck crew. There was a chorus of cries as the Tourniquet spun, rolling to starboard as more floating boulders came flying out of the mist. The ship listed over, corkscrewing as the rocks flew by, some of them impacting the mast, some piercing the cabins, but the larger ones missing altogether. The sailors dangled from their ropes, flung around by the force of gravity.

Only one man didn't need to hold on, for he had strapped his feet to the deck the moment they entered the boulder field.

Kargon continued glaring over the bow as the Tourniquet righted, his feet spread wide to support his massive, barrel-like frame. Rivulets of rainwater coursed over his body like the rivers and pools of a continent, tracing silver on contours of muscle and armoured leather.

At times the crew would see the First Mate normally, but then a lightning strike from above would distort the image and they would see his other form, hovering a few hundred feet in the mist ahead. His Cast Soul was out there, the ragged shade floating amongst the mist a few seconds into the future. The two parts of Kargon were in constant discourse now - a dozen futures of fiery demise averted, a hundred deaths sent back in time like daggers.

But even as Kargon witnessed his potential doom, over and over, he kept his orders sharp.

"BACK AND FILL!" roared his voice - a voice with the thunder of a harsh life, grown deeper and more cavernous with every bruise and scar. "BROACH TO PORT!"

"Back and fill!" echoed the watch-captain, still a little pale from their last manouver, "Broach to port!"

The Tourniquet turned sharply, its Carmot engines screaming in protest as they worked in opposition to the mage-wind sails, the whole ship almost twisting out of shape. But it was just in time, for a boulder the size of a small town loomed from the mist a second later. The pirate ship skidded through the air, its stern scraping across the boulder before a second thrust sent it on its way. And on the bow, Kargon screwed up his map in one hand and tossed it into the storm.

The Witch Map had been a hard-won thing, a prize paid for in a currency of tavern brawls, midnight thefts and cut-throat bargaining. He had had to beat three men to an inch of their lives, and his crew had endured more than their usual share of skirmishes with rival traders and officers of the crown. In the end they had tracked it down to the townhouse of a governor in the Mid-Realms, and the Tourniquet still bore the damage from the viscious aerial raid they had conducted to plunder the governor's vault. Of course, the militia had given chase, but once the Tourniquet had plunged into the rock-field of Torsa Prime, the governor had written them off as dead men. For no one alive had ever got through the floating boulders of Torsa Prime.

But such conventions didn't hold water when it came to Kargon, a man both living and dead. And now he had cleared the rock-field with the Witch Map in his hand. The map, drawn by the disease-ridden mystics of the Ceradene Cove, was the key to the location of the Nocta Syr Prison.

For when a prison shifts location at the dawn and dusk of every day, only the most twisted and powerful of oracles can forsee its arrival.

The map gave them the location of the next four shifts, and that was all the Tourniquet needed.

In his other hand Kargon held a watch, and as the last of the large boulders skimmed overhead, he kept his eyes upon it. He could feel his Cast Soul ranging, the shade moving with a mind of its own in the moments ahead. In flashes he saw it: the shape of the prison towers unfolding from the mist, like an iceberg rising from blood-dark waters. And then the Cast Soul faded. It would always come and go, and it was only by the greatest application of will that he could keep it in one place. Tonight had almost exhausted Kargon, and he feared it would be a long time before the Cast Soul allowed such cooperation again.

As a cold shiver ran through him - the feeling of the Cast Soul re-entering his body - Kargon yelled. "TOSS-BUOY, CAPSTAN READYYYYY!"

A group of pirates near the stern shot into action, readying the harpoon-like device at the back of the ship. They angled it, looking back to Kargon for orders.

And Kargon eyes were fixed dead ahead, at the swirling mists, counting the seconds as they ticked on his watch... "BY THE KEEL..."

The mists separated...


Things started to appear: metal points, like the tips of a crown...


Everyone else on the deck grabbed hold of ropes and prayed for their lives.


The harpoon was fired and a ball of blue light shot from the stern of the Tourniquet, trailing enchanted rope. The Toss Buoy screamed between the towers of the materialising prison of Nocta Syr and came to a halt over one of its massive courtyards.

The magic buoy was locked perfectly in space, and in the next instant the rope pulled taut.

Anchored upon the buoy, the Tourniquet cut its engines and swung downwards, plunging to a chorus of half-terrified and half-exhilirated shouts from the crew. The ship fell like a pendulum between the half-summoned towers, swinging through courtyards and knocking gargoyles from ledges.

Kargon felt his stomach twist, but still he kept his sneer - the one thing he was careful not to lose on a ship like this. "PROW-CANNON FIRE!"

With a sound like thunder in the storm, the prow cannons opened up and sent a volley of cannonballs into one of the towers on the east wing. The magical rock was ripped apart, the chambers opening up like a wound. The Tourniquet came to the limit of its swing, a few dozen feet from the tower, and its mage-sails swung through the breach, entering and exiting the hole in a perfect arch.

And then it carried on swinging, all the way down till its masts scraped the floor of the courtyard. There were screams and insane whoops from the crew as parts of the ship snapped loose and cargo tumbled across the decks. But then the Tourniquet lifted again, swinging upwards on the enchanted rope and pointing towards the sky once more.


The pirate ship rocketed upwards, clearing the courtyard and twisting past the towers. There was a cheer, human shouts competing with the storm and the distant roars of the Prison's dark master, who even now was aware that something precious had been stolen from him.

The Carmot engines went into overtime as they cleared the peak of Nocta Syr and cut the Toss-Buoy lose, leaving it to collide with the prison as it swept onwards.

Kargon untied his feet and stalked back across the deck as the ship levelled out. And through the lashing rain he glared up at the central mast - the one that had swung through the hole in the prison tower. He watched something tumble down it, half-falling and half-leaping down the rigging.

And when it finally hit the deck, he picked it up with one hand and punched it with the other.

Captain Ku-Jon Bokor was thrown back against the mast, dazed by the punch, and Kargon held him there, one hand around his throat. The rest of the pirate crew gathered around, glaring just like Kargon... angrily... expectantly.

"Now Cap'n," Kargon barked as he pinned the man in place, "About this treasure ye promised us?"
Prestadeth simply chose not understand what he just said, it would be easier this way, and stepped out of her cell. She looked him over, trying to decipher what it was that was so strange about him. He looked like an average mage to her, and in her limited experience, human mages were not to be trusted. She would have to keep an eye on him.

"Let us hope your abilities can keep you alive long enough to get out of this place," she might not even have to think about killing him later. The gods might take care of it for her.

Without another word, Prestadeth set off silently down the hall, following the sounds of life, and the smell of fresh air a little ways down the long, dark hall. Her eyes were wide and searching for the human who took her blade.

Stepping through the crowd of people, occasionally Oralia was stopped by birthday greetings and well wishes. A lord with old stories about her father, or a Duchess talking about her own daughters. The offer for a dance here and there, even insults disguised as clever compliments. This was the way of things at court and a well trained Princess knew how to respond with grace. That meant no laughing at old men that were losing their pants, or throwing water in to the faces of people she found unpleasant.

With so many people, it was hard for her to track down what caught her fancy. Cursing her own short stature, even standing on her toes didn't help in her quest for finding that funny looking hat. Just when she was going to give up in frustration and find something more constructive to do, there it was!

Oralia didn't mean to seem like she was sneaking, but she rather wanted a chance to get a good look at it before the man noticed she was staring. She had tiptoed behind him and was trying to stand on her toes again to see.
Steve had just finished his fourth glass of wine and was feeling slightly buzzed, the downside, or upside in certain circumstances, of being a pyromancer was that his body burned alcohol very quickly, so he had to drink heavily so that he could simply get buzzed. He got an Idea and spun around, to his surprise Oralia was standing right behind him, he rushed foward saying "Follow me," before gently grabbing her hand and leading her to the balcony.

"What's a party without fireworks, especially the princess's birthday party"

With that he cracked his knuckles and rubbed his hands together, before enacting a simple spell he both devised, and taught to most all of his students, primarily to keep them entertained and out of his hair.

Bright multicolored explosions began to burst across the sky, lighting the castle in their many hues, and creating a spectacle that drew the attention of the party goers inside, he dialed up the intensity, depicting a brave knight, saving a princess from a terrible dragon, with climactic explosions whenever the knight or the dragon struck each other.

"Not like my abilities did any worse than yours." Zagara answered as he watched the elf take the lead. That was fine with him... even though she was skinny, she could still soak up a few arrows and bolts for him. Might even get a few sword thrusts too if she was the kind of person who charged in.

Rubbing his swollen jaw, Zagara squinted in the darkness. He could vaguely make out Prestadeth ahead of him, and the walls along the hallway. Without a torch though, she'd probably have better luck. They say that elves had an ability to see in low to total darkness.

"Might I suggest the Guard Room? That is... if you're looking for that blade you mentioned... they tend to keep those things in chests." This elf had obviously never been in prison before... well a human prison at any rate. "Should be up around that bend to the right... passed it every time on my way back from "Counseling." He said with a slight hint of disgust in his voice, which was evident more so after he spit afterward. The thought of what went on in that room made his stomach squirm.
Prestadeth nodded in silent acknowledgement. The mage was right, already she could smell human sweat and the stench of meals long eaten ahead, and just beyond that . . . Presta didn't want to think about what the scents in the other room meant. Though she could see, Presta preferred to open her other senses to see far beyond what her eyes could tell her. tThe earth whispered to her, even in this tainted place, echoed the reverberations of foot steps, voices, heartbeats. . .

Prestadeth suddenly stopped, Zagara nearly bumping into her from behind. Just ahead of them was a closed door.

"There are three men in that room," she whispered, barely audible. Prestadeth closed her eyes and sniffed the air. "They are dining. . . rich food, probably pilfered from upstairs. They will be slow."

Prestadeth peered at Zagara from over her shoulder, a single brow arched in question. "Would you prefer to take your revenge, or would you rather I lead?"

Prestadeth was confident that she could easily dispatch the three on her own; however, she was never one to deny a man his revenge.

Oralia's first thought was that she was being kidnapped! Not in a serious way, but there was that childish urge to call her father to come save her. Not the most mature behavior for a young woman on her birthday.

Taking a deep breath, she allowed herself to be led out to the balcony, where her temporary courage was rewarded! With both hands on the stone railing of the balcony, Oralia leaned forward as she gazed up at the sky. There had been fireworks, but these were spectacular. Detail and movement told a story with all of the bursts of color. By the end she wore a grand smile and could barely contain her curious amazement.

"That was brilliant! And it was only with a spell? I had no idea things like that could be done!"
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